Pancreatitis is a common presentation to the emergency department (ED).

Across the whole of the UK the same appears to be true and incidence ranges from 150-420 cases per million population [2-3].

Most patients will have a mild disease that resolves spontaneously however some can be significantly unwell requiring high dependency unit (HDU) or intensive care unit (ICU) level care for single or multiple organ failure.

Unfortunately it can be difficult to detect those patients at risk of complications early in their presentation and thus rapid assessment, severity prediction, early referral and effective initial management are vital.

Mortality rates

The overall mortality in acute pancreatitis is approximately 5%, and is:

  • 3% in interstitial pancreatitis
  • 17% in necrotising pancreatitis (30% in infected necrosis, 12% in sterile necrosis) [2].

The UK working group for pancreatitis has stated that mortality should be less than 10% for all cases of pancreatitis, with less than 30% for severe cases.

Gallstone pancreatitis is more common in white women >60 years of age, especially among patients with microlithiasis. Alcoholic pancreatitis is seen more frequently in men.

Learning Bite

Pancreatitis carries a significant mortality rate.

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Interestingly there is an increased number of cases recently.

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